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Published on March 18, 2013

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Early Detection is the Key

For most of us, the month of March is an exciting time of the year; with the arrival of spring, March Madness, and St. Patrick’s Day, it’s virtually impossible to not be in good spirits. But there’s something serious happening this month, too, and you need to pay attention to it.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Since it’s the third most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., you might want to read closely.

If discovered early on, 80 to 90 percent of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer could potentially return to normal health. This also means that about 60 percent of deaths caused by colorectal cancer could have been avoided, so why not take the next steps towards a healthier and longer life?

Since the risk for colorectal cancer increases with age— more than 90 percent of cases occur in those 50 and older— doctors recommend a variety of frequent screenings to detect precancerous polyps or early stages of colon cancer. This gives your either the opportunity to prevent the onset of colon cancer completely, or dramatically increase your chances of overcoming the disease.

To identify the presence of cancer in the colon or rectum, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:

Colonoscopy: Every ten years, your doctor will examine your entire large intestine to look for early signs of cancer such as inflamed tissues, ulcers, and bleeding.

Sigmoidoscopy: Every five years, only the lower third of your large intestine is inspected to identify any irregularities. It can also be used to search for the causes of unusual growths, bleeding, and digestive issues like diarrhea, and constipation. Additionally, this procedure might be used to retrieve biopsies and remove polyps or hemorrhoids.

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) or Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)- Conducted every year, this test is performed to identify traces of blood that might be in the stool, which can be a symptom of colorectal cancer or other digestive tract issue.

While some people are at a higher risk than others for developing cancer, you should consult a doctor if you have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colorectal polyps or caner, and genetic syndromes like Lynch Syndrome or inherited adenomatous polyposis (FAP.)

Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://gi.crozerkeystone.org/ or call 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441).

For more information about Crozer-Keystone Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org/ or call 1-866-695-HOPE (1-866-695-4673).

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